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Other People’s Photographs

He shared a photograph of the morning, breaking over the city, the buildings still night-lit, only the hint of a dawn.

She shared some pictures of a walk in a fields in the mist, then the sun breaking golden, through.

They don’t normally share photographs, either of them, but they were good, really good.

I was teeny bit jealous. These were the kind of pictures I was supposed to take!

I was (I am glad to say!) a larger part glad, and hopeful that perhaps my own practice had played some small part –

Some encouragement maybe that you don’t need to ‘be’ a photographer to take photographs, you don’t need a fancy camera, you don’t need to know anything about apertures or lenses, you just need to be willing to be open to the moment and capture what you see,

And let the day break over you like the dawn, or the sun peering through the mist,

Or a rainbow, arcing, on the hill.

rainbow

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Turning Times

I love the turning times of year, the spring, and the autumn.

blaeberry leaf
When the autumn arrives I find myself declaring, like my seven year old self:

Autumn is my favourite season!

(Just as I do in the spring.)

I love the way the autumn holds something of the summer gone, while telling us of the winter coming. It seems to juggle between them, back and forth, not one or the other, yet both.

Perhaps all time is like this really, and it’s just that we notice it at some times more than others.

Sometimes it’s a season.

Sometimes it’s a liminal place, a place as well as a time that seems to sit between two realities, and both.

Sometimes it’s grief: even if we are ‘ready’ for someone to go, the time of that passing and the sadness afterwards can make our senses more acute, more aware of the look and feel of the moments, of the way the time passes but also circles and returns.

I don’t know really what it means to be in the moment, it seems like an impossibility, since the moment is always

gone

but perhaps we can learn to be more aware of and in tune with these in-between times, neither one thing nor the other, and both.

And let ourselves be comfortable with noticing them, and not needing to rush on through.

first drops of rain –
still this humming of a bee
in the blaeberries

~~~

(for Jackie, with love)

~~~

The haiku was written in the transition from spring to summer. I didn’t manage a photo of the blaeberries in the rain, but I did stop to listen to the bees.

The photo is of a leaf on the same bush, as the summer turned into the autumn.

The haiku was published in Blithe Spirit, Vol 24, Number 3

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The Value of Practice

I’ve been enjoying a bit of a break: less writing, less sharing, less blogging.

Breaks can be good – they refresh you – but if you leave it too long, that way of being becomes the norm.

Time drifts by, and it seems harder to get a hold of the mood of the season again, and it’s nearly gone before you had the chance to tell it.

drifting seeds

The autumn is pressing on, and reminding me, as if I needed reminding – but it seems that I did – of the value of practice.

Practice means letting things be a work in progress.

It doesn’t all have to be finished, perfect, and just so.

There are so many web possibilities now, it’s easy to get lost in the aesthetics of getting a site just right, and lose a lot of what the thing was meant to be in the first place, which was –

what blogging was, once upon a time –

thinking, reflecting, learning, connecting, sharing,

leaving room, some space at the edge, for the connections to form with others, it’s not meant to be a finished piece.

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And the other part of practice of course is the act of doing the practice: it’s the repetition that matters, it’s the commitment to noticing, to seeing, to expressing through words, or pictures, or some meld of the two, even when it feels uncomfortable, when something isn’t right, the practice will serve you, is there to serve you most particularly in those times when you wished you’d never started.

So, it’s time for me to come back, and resume the practice of my practice.

Thanks for your patience, and persistence, and gentle reminders.

I do have posts and photographs from the late summer and early autumn that I need to share somehow, but seem kind of out of season now…

Perhaps I’ll just pop them on the site and let those that need them, find them.

Meantime, I’ve shoogled the way I run things (again) and have come back to WordPress (again), which means comments (again), for those few of you who still do. (Thank you.)

Shoogling might mean a flurry of back posts, for which apologies… I will get into some kind of rhythm and structure… some practice… soon.

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The Look of Nothing to See

Moving to a new place means you also need to find new places to walk. Sometimes that process of exploration leads to discovery and delight, but of course, things being the way that they are, sometimes it doesn’t.

I was walking the other day by the Union Canal. I’d been there a few days previously and had found a lovely leafy place to walk, green and refreshing, with the curves that some canals offer (but other stretches don’t).

I was curious though to see what happened if I walked the other way. The day was hot and dusty and the other way turned out to be so too, offering little by way of refreshment: closer to the town and busier with folk, featureless and disappointingly straight, running alongside the road, and never quite escaping from the sound of traffic.

I stopped to take some photographs regardless (it’s thistle season, and if you’re lucky you’ll get bees), and a dog walker stopped to talk about flowers. He suggested another place where I could find wildflowers aplenty, not too far from where I was, but much quieter, and by a river rather than a canal.

thistle top

I duly went off in search of the promised carpet of wildflowers but although I found what I thought was the path, near a building site running underneath the motorway (I know, it doesn’t sound too promising!), and although the sign pointed the way to the river, after twenty minutes there was no sign of the water, and I was hot, and fed up with not knowing where to walk, and not having things to show you, and not finding anything to see.

summer grazing

It had turned out to be simply one of those days, and it was time to head back home.

Just before I got to the car though, something caught my eye. I can’t remember now what it was, what made me stop, and put my bag down, and get out my camera again.

Perhaps it was the way the flowers curled round the patterns of the fence.

pink 1

Perhaps it was the loveliness of these tiny pink flowers, whose name I shamedly don’t know.

Perhaps it was something in the back of my mind that remembered, better late than never, how to look when there’s nothing to see.

pink 2

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Refusing the Operation

I pause on the bridge over the Bog Burn, to stop and watch the river.

Behind me, the world moves past: people cycling, running, walking briskly with dogs, or trudging home with shopping. I don’t know if they wonder what I’m looking at, I mean, it’s nothing special – a slow moving stretch of water, slightly brown coloured, it’s hard to know how clean, and I shouldn’t really call it a river at all.

But still, if you squint, or somehow soften your gaze, you might notice the way the hawthorn tree is drooping, laden with blossom, drifting right down to the water, so the blossom is touching the surface, and connecting with its own reflection.

Tree, blossom, surface and reflection on this slow moving, brown coloured water, blend, and merge into one.

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It makes me think of a painting.

It makes me think of a poem.

It makes me think, I need to keep refusing the operation.

 

~~~

The picture is from a few weeks ago – the blossom is long gone now.

The inspiration is this poem, Monet Refuses the Operation, by Lisel Mueller.  It begins like this:

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,

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Sharing A Space

One of the things that I like best about macro photography is how it shifts your awareness over time. This is not an art that teaches you how to master, and ‘capture’, but rather one that reminds you, over and over, about the richness of the world you are moving through, and the other creatures who are sharing your space. Sometimes you notice this by accident, after the event, watching for a flower, and finding something else.

cuckooflower detail Sometimes something catches your eye: movement, or stillness, orange tip or a variation in the light and shade. sharing the hawthorn Sometimes it’s just what happens when you make the time to walk slowly, to bend down in wet grasses, to watch for tiny wildflowers, and find what else is there. through the grass